Police say officers discovered the fire when they responded to a report of a disturbance at the apartment around 1 a.m. Wednesday. The door was blocked but they saw flames. They also saw someone inside, but he wouldn't come out.
Officers evacuated other residents on the floor as firefighters arrived and put out the fire.
"When we got up to the 9th floor the smoke was so heavy our firefighters couldn't even see within a foot of their face," said Kyle Moore with Seattle Fire. "We were able to get to the fire room what we call it and the door had actually burned down."
Residents said as they made their way to the ground floor, they looked up and saw the man fall.
"We just saw the whole window just fall out, just kicking it out," said witness Maane Ali. "We assumed it was a fireman in there trying to clear out the smoke and let some air out... within 10 seconds, we saw a guy fall from the 9th floor."
The man was pronounced dead at the scene.
Firefighters found the second man in the apartment and took him to Harborview Medical Center in critical condition with burns and smoke inhalation.
A couple of residents and several officers also were treated for inhaling smoke.
Investigators are still looking into how the fire started but suspect it was started by the man who fell to his death. Damage is estimated at $90,000.
The Red Cross is helping others who live in the building with temporary housing.